Vintage Motorcycle Sales
Bonhams’ annual sale of Collectors’ Motorcycles and Related Memorabilia at The Classic MotorCycle Show, Stafford on Easter Sunday, April 24, once more demonstrated the strength of the motorcycle market with a sales total of £2 million ($3.3 Million USD) and 93% of Lots sold (85% by value).
Top item in the sale was Lot 339, the 1934 Brough Superior SS100. Restored by marque specialist Dave Clark in 2004, the Brough changed hands for an on-estimate £131,300.
Britain’s most successful “over the counter” racing motorcycle of all time, the Manx Norton is always in demand and the restored 1961 500cc version sold to a bidder in California for an above-estimate £29,900, reflecting its rarity as a ‘matching-numbers’ example.
Also British but much less well known, the 1965 DMW Typhoon 500cc twin-cylinder prototype fetched £19,550 against an estimate of £8,000 – 12,000.
Ben Walker, Head of Bonhams Collectors’ Motorcycle Department, commented: ‘We were extremely happy with the results achieved.
The vendors of some of the more expensive machines had been offered substantially less in advance of the sale than the actual prices achieved, which amply demonstrates the merits of offering collectible motorcycles to a worldwide audience at a Bonhams auction.’
The customary eclectic mix of machines encompassed almost the entire span of motorcycle development, ranging from the 1902 Griffon to the 1998 Ducati 916SPS ‘Fogarty Replica’.
As usual the sale attracted a worldwide audience, with bidders representing almost every European Union country plus the USA, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Hong Kong, South Africa, Switzerland, Norway, Mexico and India. This sale was also notable as the first at Stafford to include live bidding via the Internet.
Vincents are always in demand and this sale provided plentiful opportunities for devotees of the Stevenage marque to expand their collections, there being no fewer than eleven consigned. As expected, top performer was the 1955 Series D Victor prototype, the only one of its kind ever made, which sold for a premium-inclusive £107,100, more than double its top estimate of £50,000. Offered from the same private collection, the 1949 Black Shadow Series C fetched £68,600 while the totally dismantled 1951 Comet ‘project’ made £9,200.
Other ‘projects’ and ‘barn finds’ turned in some of the sale’s most notable results, confirming the continuing healthy demand for original, unrestored machines, whatever their condition. Purchased by its late owner in 1960, the totally original 1950 Ariel Model 4G ‘Square Four’ sold for £5,520 while the dismantled 1928 Norton Model 18 ‘flat tanker’ was knocked down for £16,100 against a top estimate of £4,000. The sale’s oldest motorcycle, the unrestored 1902 Griffon discovered by the vendor’s late father in a local garage in 1959, fetched £24,250, comfortably exceeding its £10,000 top estimate.
Other notable Edwardians, albeit examples at the opposite end of the condition scale, included the restored 1911 Pierce (an early example of America’s first four-cylinder motorcycle), which sold for £54,300, and the rebuilt 1906 NSU 5½hp Touring v-twin, which found a new home in Spain for an above-estimate £24,150.
Italy could lay claim to the sale’s other top-performing racing motorcycles: the 1974 Laverda 750SFC sailing past its £20,000 top estimate to find a new owner for £27,600, while the 2003 Gilera 500cc four-cylinder (a faithful replica of the 1957 works machine built in the UK by Kay Engineering) sold for £84,000, bang on estimate.
Other top-performing Italians included the 1998 Ducati 916SPS ‘Fogarty Replica’ (number ‘002′) that had been gifted to four-time World Superbike Champion Carl Fogarty by a grateful Ducati in factory. Offered for sale by only its second owner, the pristine ‘Foggy Rep’ sold for an above-estimate £27,600. A Ducati superbike from an earlier era, the 900SS ‘bevel drive’ v-twin found a new home for £18,400.
As usual, British roadsters made up the bulk of the sale, particularly noteworthy results in this category being turned in by the 1977 Norton Commando MkIII – the last of its kind made – which sold for £18,975 while its showroom rival, the unregistered 1975 Triumph T160 Trident with only 7 ‘push’ miles recorded, made £13,800.
Within the sale’s memorabilia section, the Ken Jones Photographic Collection was the undisputed highlight. Comprising thousands of prints and negatives taken at Brands Hatch and other British circuits during the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s, this unique historic archive sailed way past its £8,000 top estimate, selling to a prominent private collector in Wales for £22,800.
Any memorabilia associated with Britain’s most successful motorcycle racer of all time – Mike Hailwood – is always keenly sought after and the seven such Lots on offer proved no exception, the top performer being Mike’s silver replica trophy, awarded for his 1st place in the 1967 Isle of Man Junior TT, which sold for £8,400.
Prior to Mike Hailwood, Stanley Woods had been the most successful rider at the Isle of Man TT, and his collection of memorabilia attracted keen interest. Although not quite the most valuable item, the letter from Stanley’s mother – saying she would give him the motorcycle if he promised he would ‘never take intoxicating drink’ – was by far the most poignant, selling for £1,680 against a top estimate of £200.